On her 28th birthday, Ava Green learns that the cancer she thought she’d beaten is back, and that this time it’s terminal. With less than a year to live, she decides to fulfill a long-cherished childhood dream: to get married. She may not have a groom, but she can still wear a white dress, invite her family and friends, and celebrate herself. Then a national magazine decides to do a series of articles about the wedding, and the handsome photographer assigned to the story turns out to be someone she could very easily fall in love with.
Photos of You is a moving, emotional novel that does exactly what it promises it will. There’s no last-minute miracle cure, no surprising reveal about a medical error. Ava Green will die, but she will fulfill her dream of having a wedding before she does. The love story reminds me a bit of Nicholas Sparks, especially A Walk to Remember, except it’s told from the perspective of the character with a terminal illness, which means, thankfully, that cancer is never reduced to a plot twist designed to shock and evoke tears. Rather, like Ava, we need to carry that knowledge with us for the entire book, infusing even the happiest of scenes with an incredibly complex mix of emotions.
I absolutely love that Ava decides to have a wedding even without a groom. It’s such a badass response to cancer, and a glorious celebration of life. I love how Ava’s dream of having a wedding can still come true even if she’s single, how she can still choose to enjoy dressing up in a beautiful white gown, and having a massive celebration with her loved ones. Ava’s decision to have a wedding is a determination to make her happily ever after come true, and I absolutely love that about this story.
Having said that, I also absolutely love that Ava does find love in the photographer, Lucas. Their relationship does feel a bit insta-love, but Robinson sets their story up in such a way that you want to suspend your disbelief. You want to fully buy into their love story. Just as much as the wedding itself is a badass act of happily ever after, Ava’s relationship with Lucas is a promise that, no matter how bleak circumstances can feel, fate can still come through and surprise you with a taste of the happily ever after you no longer thought possible. It’s a romance that’s doomed to tragedy from the start, and you can’t help but root for Ava and Lucas to take every little bit of happiness together that they can.
Photos of You is a beautiful story. Odd as it may be to say about a story where the main character will die, Photos of You is also a hopeful, feel-good story. Yes, we know that Ava will die, and we know that she and Lucas will have a few months together at most. But we also know that love happens, and we also know that a lifelong dream will come true. And that’s beautiful.
Thank you to Forever for an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.